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Skiers have it tough. There’s really no way to travel light. But with the right luggage, you can easily cruise through airports and cobblestone ski villages with your pile of Gore-Tex and assorted heaps of high-priced hardware rolling along behind you.
No matter where you’re heading, you’ll need a bomber bag for your sticks. The Dakine Dually doesn’t discriminate: Carry two pairs of skis, two snowboards, or a board-ski combo in two zippered compartments, then smash several jackets, your long underwear, and goggles in the surrounding gaps. The result is a tidy package that keeps your planks from banging into each other. Two urethane skate wheels make for smooth rolling. (205 cm, $150; 190 cm, $140; 541-386-3166, dakine.com)
With hideaway backpack straps, wheels, and an inner structure that lets it stand vertically when fully loaded, the 4,250-cubic-inch Eagle Creek Switchback Plus Large ($250) is perfect for chasing Euro trains-assuming you can squeeze boots and other gack in your ski bag. Inside, there’s a large mesh pocket and cinch straps; outside, there are three roomy pockets, lockable zippers, and a 900-cubic-inch zip-off backpack for light-and-fast day trips. Need a spot for delicate equipment? Slip Eagle Creek’s Flight Bag ($100) over the Switchback’s handle. With little organizer pockets and a broad main compartment, this lightly padded 1,600-cubic-inch satchel carries your MP3 player and digi-cam or a night’s worth of couch-surfing threads. If you’re still not organized, get Eagle Creek’s E-Ticket Organizer ($30), which wrassles your assorted papers and pesos into a nice, trim package. (800-874-1048, eaglecreek.com)
Whether you use Patagonia’s Etc. as a ski-weekender or as a supplementary vacation bag, it’s a lightweight antidote to some of these behemoths. The collapsible suitcase hauls 3,200 cubic inches of tackle and converts to a backpack with hideaway straps. Shove your fleece in your ski bag, and you can fit your boots in here. ($165; 800-638-6464, patagonia.com)
Beast of Burden
Mounting a backcountry expedition in the Selkirks or heading to Verbier for a month? The monstrous 7,000-cubic-inch Mountainsmith Discovery can handle the ski boots, backpack, and whatever other rubble you’ll need. Its clamshell design efficiently segregates your junk, so you can access half your gear without having to dig through the whole bin. The bottom half’s expandable nylon shell keeps damp, grody stuff from tainting your clean clothes up top. ($230; 800-551-5889, mountainsmith.com)
The 1,700-cubic-inch Trager Courier Laptop case comes with a well-padded, removable sleeve for your computer and plenty of pockets and stash compartments for power cables and discs. In a pinch, there’s even room to smoosh a down jacket inside. ($150; 800-548-5484, tragerusa.com)
Wheel your gear and still save money for a plane ticket to Utah with High Sierra’s Xpedition Wheeled Cargo Boot Bag. While it’s not as bomber as the Mountainsmith, this 5,400-cubic-inch duffel was designed with skiers in mind: Two end compartments fit ski boots perfectly, and a mesh accessory pocket holds your soggy gloves and hat. ($60; 800-323-9590, highsierrasport.com)
If you’re a road tripper, all you really need is a sack. The ,b>Best American Duffle #5 is a darn good one. It’s well made, heavy duty, and, at 5,200 cubic inches, plenty big enough to get you through a week in the mountains. Four zippered compartments let you run herd on your stuff. The zippers accept small locks. ($120; 800-424-BAGS, badbags.com)